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World Religions Today

by John L. Esposito, Todd Thornton Lewis, Darrell J. Fasching

Buy the book: John L. Esposito. World Religions Today

Release Date: January, 2002

Edition: Paperback


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Buy the book: John L. Esposito. World Religions Today

Religion faces Modernity and Postmodernity

I have used this book in an introductory class in World Religions. I have found the book to be very usable and filled with the kind of information one needs. At the same time, the authors do not lose sight of the central ideas, practices, and trends of each major religion.
In reading the book, one needs to keep in mind the structure of each chapter, which begins with general ideas of religious practices and beliefs today, then goes back in time to show how they got the way they are. When one reads thoroughly, one gets a good picture of where the major religions are today and possibly where they are going.
The index is thorough, and there are two appendices, one a vocabulary for each major religion, the other a time line of major developments for each religion. These are very useful. Also helpful are the review questions at the end of each chapter
The theme of the book is the confrontation of each religion with modernism, and its status now in a postmodern (postcolonial)world. This approach is highly informative and increases the interest of the reader. There is an introductory chapter on religion in general, and the first chapter on Christianity includes a discussion of how the modern era was born out of Protestantism. This means that Christianity is shortchanged somewhat because much of the discussion is on "modernism". There are some printing errors that need to be fixed.
I was very pleased with this book, and I highly recommend it.

From Amazon.com

Long winded, but packed with information

I used this book for an introductory level religious study course, so I read the entire book and had lectures in addition to the book. And I'm very glad that I had those lectures, otherwise I don't think I would have a very good idea about the main world religions covered in this book (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, far east religoins ie. Confucianism, Daoism). The authors of this book ramble on and on, with no general direction. The organization of the book is done fairly well, but at times the text makes no sense, skipping back and forth in time with no structure. I found that an extremely frustrating aspect of this book. It was impossible for me to get a general overview of each religion without reading many pages of inane details.

The book does provide a wealth of information on each of the religions covered, however. The chapter on Islam is particularly good, but it's easy to get lost in the vastness of information provided. Every period of history is covered for each religion, so there is plenty of good material covered.

But overall, the book did present each religion from its pre-modern start to its post-modern state today. Just sometimes, it wasn't clear on what direction the authors were heading.

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